Tag Archives: literary agent

The waiting game

anxious

I am not a patient person; my kids have shown me that. They can be like cold molasses and I have to bite my tongue not to ride them every step of the way.

At work, I’m restless when I’m waiting for patients in clinic. I pace, I fidget, I get annoyed when we run behind.

I’ve always been like this, none of this is new. What is new, however, is the insane level of impatience I’m feeling waiting for feedback on my writing.

Over the past few months, I’ve submitted several pieces of my writing to different publications and competitions. Previous to this, I just posted on my blog and worked on my novel. Suddenly, I’ve found myself waiting for contest results, rejection e-mails, and feedback from editors. I now see that I’m even more terrible at waiting than I realized.

I find myself rereading contest rules, scouring the regulations for the notification details, and checking my inbox obsessively, looking for the new mail that might bring me joy or pain. At this point, I don’t even think I care if I receive rejections; I just crave some acknowledgement of the work that I’ve sent out into the publishing netherworld. I’m like a nervous mother, waiting to hear that their child has arrived safely at their destination.

Things are particularly bad this month because, as I wrote about here, I’m now looking for representation for my novel. Over the past couple of weeks, I have pitched my novel to six agents. (The pitch consists of a query letter and the first couple chapters as a writing sample.) Now, I’m playing the waiting game again, but this time the stakes are huge.

This is MY NOVEL we are talking about, not just a 2000 word article.  This is something that took me YEARS to write!

So, I now find myself feeling uncomfortable almost every waking moment of the day as I wait for feedback that might take months to come back. You see, the line of thinking is that you only pitch to few agents at a time, so that if you don’t get representation you can tweak and improve your pitch to find better success in the next batch of queries. This means, however, that I’m stuck waiting to hear back from these agents before I can take the next steps in the process.

Before you feel too badly for me, I will admit that there has been some news and it’s been positive. Two of the agents have written back that they liked my sample chapters and asked for the full manuscript to review. This is great, of course, but now I’m even more nervous waiting to hear back from them!

The only thing that seems to quell this anxiousness is more writing, and because of that, I have been incredibly productive over the past couple of weeks and have written 25,000 words of a new novel. At least something positive is coming out of all my angst!

Please, keep your fingers crossed that I get some news before I get a bleeding ulcer!

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Batters up!

reading

I’m warming up in the bullpen, getting ready to pitch. No, I’m not playing baseball… I’m starting to look for a literary agent.

I am getting ready to start pitching my book and I’ve decided to go the traditional route of looking for an agent prior to cold-pitching publishers. Why? Well, even though I know a lot of writers manage to get published without an agent, I still think the majority of publishers are more receptive to agents then they are to unsolicited queries. Perhaps this is naïve.

Honestly though, the main factor in my decision to pursue representation is that I have no idea what I’m doing in the publishing world and I don’t have the time to try to become an expert. I’m a working mom with a busy family; I’m lucky I have time to write, let alone find time to navigate the ocean of publishers out there. Does that make me lazy? I prefer to think of it as realistic, and I’m willing to forgo a percentage of my future earnings so that I don’t have to run the publisher gauntlet on my own.

So, while I’m doing the final polishing of the novel, I’m also taking time to craft a series of “query” letters. For those readers not in the know, these are letters that you use to sell yourself and your book. Somehow, in less than one page, you need to make yourself (and your book) sound like the best thing since J.K. Rowling. The goal is to pique your target’s interest enough such that they request a full manuscript. Then you cross your fingers that they fall in love with your book, or at least like it enough to consider it saleable.

I just read a piece of advice telling me not to give up until I’ve pitched to at least 100 agents… Sounds like I’ve got a long road ahead of me!

Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and land an agent in my first round of queries, or maybe I’ll pitch to those 100 and still be unrepresented. Either way, it’s exciting to be moving into the next phase of the process.

Wish me luck, and please, give me your advice!